Hornets 112, Cavaliers 92

Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange

NEW ORLEANS - Greivis Vasquez overcome a sloppy first half by scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the second half, and rookie Anthony Davis recorded his 17th double-double of the season to power the New Orleans Hornets to a 112-92 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday at the New Orleans Arena.

Vasquez had three of the Hornets' 12 turnovers and was held to just five points in the first half, but he teamed up with Davis in the second half on a series of penetration moves and alley-oop feeds for dunks. Davis finished with 17 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots. Vasquez also had nine assists.

Ryan Anderson, who kept the Hornets in the game with 15 first-half points, finished with 23.

Cleveland got a boost with the return of All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving, who had missed eight consecutive games with a sprained left shoulder. Irving scored a game-high 31 points, but the Cavs (22-50) lost their eighth consecutive game. The Hornets (26-48) finished a seven-game home with a 4-3 record.

Davis and Vasquez broke open a tight game by combining for 29 points in a 36-24 third quarter, giving the Hornets an 84-73 lead.

Vasquez made all six of his shots from the field in the quarter, and he dished out three assists, two of them alley oops feeds to Davis for resounding dunks and the other a no-look pass to Davis for yet another dunk.

The Hornets scored 15 consecutive points early in the third quarter - nine by Vasquez and six by Davis - to take a 65-53 lead. After Marreese Speights briefly stemmed the tide with a 20-foot jumper, the Hornets got three more points from Robin Lopez to complete an 18-2 run over a 3:42 span, putting New Orleans up 68-55.

The Hornets went on a 14-5 run to start the fourth quarter to put the game away. Anderson's layup and 3-pointer from the top of the key expanded the lead to 95-75 with 6:28 left.

Irving scored 17 first-half points, including 10 straight in a 1:26 span of the second quarter as the Cavaliers turned a 39-35 deficit into a 45-43 lead. Irving hit a pair of 3-pointers - one from the left wing and the other from the right wing - in the spurt. Irving also had five assists in the first half.

The Hornets got 15 first-half points from Anderson and 12 from Eric Gordon, but they killed themselves with 12 turnovers, including three each by Vasquez and Gordon.

Symptomatic of their sloppy ball-handling was the final play of the half, in which Gordon dribbled in on an isolation play against Alonzo Gee, who stole the ball and fed Shaun Livingston on the other end to put Cleveland up 49-48 at intermission.

NOTES: The Cavaliers lost seven of eight games without Irving. Cavaliers coach Byron Scott said Irving had made steady progress since spraining the AC joint in a March 10 game against Toronto. At the time, the second-year guard was expected to miss three to four weeks, and he returned in three. Scott said he liked what he saw of Irving in a Saturday practice. "It was just the way he was moving," Scott said. "I wanted to see if he could handle any type of contact, and he said it felt pretty good. If we thought he was in any danger, we wouldn't put him out there. If he's healthy and ready to play, this is what he's been asking for. The fact that he's been champing at the bit has been encouraging." ... Vasquez, who missed two of the last three games with a sprained left ankle, also returned to the starting lineup. "He's sore, but not to the point where I'm going to hold him out," New Orleans coach Monty Williams said. ... After allowing 85 points per game during a three-game winning streak, the Hornets allowed 105 to the Clippers and 108 to Miami in their previous two losses. "Any defense starts with ball pressure," Williams said, indicating it had been lacking, especially with Vasquez slowed with the ankle injury.